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June 15, 2022

Supporting LGBTQ+ students, trainees, and staff in a safe and inclusive learning environment

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Last week, the Heersink School of Medicine Office for Diversity and Inclusion shined a light on the transformative work being done to support LGBTQ+ faculty members. As we continue celebrating Pride Month, we shift focus to the ways LGBTQ+ students, trainees, and staff are supported at the school.

Having diverse organizations that engage team members at all levels is of utmost importance to the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, and directly affects its mission to create an inclusive environment for all.

A safe and inclusive learning environment

For years, Medical Student MedPride has served as a safe place for LGBTQ+ scholars. Along with building understanding and comradery, the organization looks to further educate the UAB community on the realities of LGBTQ+ health care. While the needs of the LGBTQ+ community drives session topics, discussions, and the overall mission of the organization, allies are invited to join events throughout the year—such as peer-mentorship and lunch-and-learns.

Those interested in joining Medical Student MedPride can reach out to Salomon Roman Soto (

Outside of student MedPride, there is still a need for students to learn the skills required to appropriately address the physical and mental health concerns of LGBTQ+ individuals. To ensure Heersink School of Medicine students are prepared to serve as physicians and scientists, an inclusive curriculum has been developed to expand students’ foundational understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Bridging the gap in the curriculum are LGBTQ+ special courses that allow students to learn skill sets and foster aptitudes to communicate proficiently with future patients and colleagues on a growing range of topics.

Connecting future physicians and scientists

Like students, residents and fellows at Heersink School of Medicine also have a dedicated MedPride group. Trainees are invited to join GME MedPride, which focuses on member well-being and guidance through the student-to-physician pipeline.smartmockups l4fnquasUAB Connect Portal

Through seminars, meetings, discussions, and peer-mentorship, GME MedPride creates a space of belonging and open-mindedness for LGBTQ+ trainees. Trainees who are interested learning more can contact Justin Evans ( for information.

For more formal training, Heersink School of Medicine is applying for the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation’s National LGBTQ+ Fellowship Program—a revolutionary effort that supports LGBTQ+ health as its own health care specialty. If awarded, this program would give Heersink School of Medicine the opportunity to further enhance knowledge and skillsets around LGBTQ+ health.

In addition to training, establishing meaningful mentorship between students or trainees and faculty is critical for academic success. However, finding the right mentor can be difficult. UAB Connect was built in collaboration with the Office for Diversity and Inclusion’s Student Affairs team, and is designed to make it easier for those from diverse racial backgrounds and gender identities to find faculty mentors with similar lived experiences.

Seeking ways to continuously improve

Cates Pride Week 3Corey CatesTo best support the employees that make up the Heersink School of Medicine, we recognize there is no one-size-fits-all program for employees. And, what works for students and trainees, might not apply to our staff members. To ensure we are supporting staff properly, we’ve leveraged our Office for Diversity and Inclusion Staff Diversity Liaison group to glean new methods for helping LGBTQ+ staff members feel welcomed, included, and nurtured.

When asked about his feelings toward LGBTQ+ support in the school, Corey Cates, Facilities Coordinator II in the Department of Medicine said, “I see stories on the website and in emails spotlighting the ways faculty and staff are working to help the LGBTQ+ community. I appreciate seeing an often underrepresented group not being left behind.”

“The fact UAB offers LGBTQ+ inclusive training, events, organizations, and offices tailored to each of the groups on campus, it’s no wonder we are a leader in LGBTQ+ health care,” added Cates.Sarah Minor Pride Week 3Sarah Minor

For staff members wanting to get involved, reach out to your staff liaison with ideas or send the Office for Diversity and Inclusion an email. Sarah Minor, Communications Specialist in the Department of Medicine said, “I recommend educating yourself and encouraging others to do the same. Be an active and vocal ally. We need to know by your actions that you support us.”

She added, “Listen when a coworker goes by specific pronouns. If you’re unsure of their pronouns, call them by name until you know or introduce yourself using your pronouns. It’s a great way to encourage us to comfortably share!”